September 28, 2014 —
(From left) Chief Ted Garcia Jr., Michael Anthony (Mike) Cooke, Dennis Garcia at the 21st annual Hart of the West Powwow at William S. Hart Park in Newhall.
Photo by Geraldine Lee (Jeri) Romero Perez.
About Chief Ted Garcia Jr.
Ted A. Garcia is chief of the Southern Chumash (having succeeded Charlie Cooke in December 2008) and spiritual advisor to the Hart of the West Powwow in Newhall.
His Tataviam, Chumash, Tongva and Vanyume ancestors lived in the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and Antelope valleys, as well as parts of Ventura County.
Ted's father, Ted C. Garcia, and grandmother, Chief Mary Cooke Garcia, lived in Newhall and are direct descendants of individuals who
lived at Chaguayabit village (now Castaic Junction) prior to European contact in 1769.
Ted's gr-gr-gr-grandfather Santiago Garcia was born to American Indian and Californio parents about 1833 when the Mission period ended.
Santiago settled in the Little Rock Creek area, just above modern-day Acton. (Acton lies in Santiago Canyon, which is named for him.)
One of Santiago's sons, Isidoro Garcia — Ted's gr-gr-grandfather — subsequently homesteaded in upper San Francisquito Canyon.
Their forebears carved utilitarian as well as ceremonial and decorative objects from native steatite (soapstone).
Ted has studied the artifacts to understand the ancient culture's subjects and style. Keeping the traditions alive, he executes small, finely crafted
sculptures from locally sourced stone, often using steatite that he gathers in the Santa Clarita Valley.
About Mike Cooke
Michael Anthony (Mike) Cooke, of Santa Maria, didn't know he had a bunch of half-sisters and -brothers until the summer of 2014 when his fiancee, Newhall native Cathleen (Cat) Shenk Park,
came across a photograph on SCVHistory.com. It had just recently been added in the (ongoing) course of compiling the
genealogy of the direct descendants of Native Americans
who lived in the Santa Clarita Valley prior to European contact in 1769.
The photograph showed the late Chief Charlie Cooke and his cousins, (now Chief)
Ted A. Garcia and Dennis Garcia. Cat saw a resemblance, and knowing Mike had heard stories as a child of long-lost relatives, she scrolled through the listings and found
the name of the man who had
raised Mike — Izzy Cooke (generation 8 in list) — and found photos of Chief Mary Cooke Garcia,
thinking it might be Mike's mother. (It was his grandmother; both were named Mary.)
Cat tracked down Chief Ted Garcia, and that phone call resulted in a private reuniting of the siblings in Santa Maria on Aug. 17, 2014. Then, Mike and Cat and Mike's son
Rusty Cooke, 6, attended the Hart of the West Powwow at William S. Hart Park in Newhall on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, and met more relatives. The rest, as they say...
The history is that back in 1957 when Mike was born, the county limited families on general relief to five children. Any more, said Mike's
newly reaquainted half-sister Geraldine Romero, and a social worker would remove additional children for placement in foster homes. Lucky families managed
to send children away to live with relatives. Such was the case with Mike Cooke, the seventh of Mary Louise Garcia Romero's 10 children.
Mike's mother's mother is Chief Mary Garcia Cooke. Mike was raised by Chief Mary's brother, Isidoro (Izzy) Cooke.
Incidentally ... Mike's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's father's mother's
mother was born at Chaguayabit village (now Castaic Junction) in 1763.
About Dennis Garcia
Dennis Garcia is a Native American educator of Tataviam, Chumash, Tongva and Vanyume ancestry who teaches about traditional lifeways through music and presentations.
Dennis sings songs and tells Chumash stories as part of his presentation, which includes a display of his regalia (including necklaces); rattles, dance sticks and clapper sticks; and soapstone (steatite) carvings made by his elder brother, Chief Ted A. Garcia Dennis wears distinctive red face paint, explaining that the mask was traditionally for protection.
Dennis gives his presentation throughout the greater Los Angeles area at schools, at the Autry National Center, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center in Newbury Park, Tongva Park in Santa Monica, and at the Hart of the West Powwow in Newhall. He also frequently participates in Native American dances.
Dennis' father, Ted C. Garcia, and grandmother, Chief Mary Cooke Garcia, lived in Newhall and are direct descendants of individuals who lived at Chaguayabit village (now Castaic Junction) prior to European contact in 1769.